DVIDS – News – F-35 Dual Capability Aircraft Team Achieves Goals Ahead of Schedule, Wins Prestigious Award
ARLINGTON, Va., February 17, 2022 – As the world faced a global pandemic in 2020, the F-35 Dual Capable Aircraft (DCA) team worked tirelessly to achieve a critical milestone toward nuclear certification of the variant Air Force F-35A. By the end of 2020, not only had the team completed a vital development testing campaign, they did so a full year ahead of the original schedule.
In recognition of these efforts, Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles “CQ” Brown selected the 26-person F-35 DCA team as the recipient of the prestigious Order of Daedalians award. Colonel Franklin C. Wolfe Weapons System Award for 2020.
On February 16, five of the team’s representatives attended a small ceremony at the F-35 Joint Program Office headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Outgoing Commander of the Order of the Daedalians, Lt. Gen. (Ret’d) Nicholas B. Kehoe presented the award – a bronze trophy – to F-35 program general manager Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, who at his turn then presented the award. to a handful of F-35 DCA team members.
“It gives me extraordinary pride to be able to participate in this event today,” said Fick, during a brief address before the award ceremony. “When our nation came to us and said, ‘I need you to go faster’, the (DCA) team stood up and you did it (go faster).”
The F-35 DCA team includes the F-35 Joint Program Office DCA team, which is the acquisition arm responsible for all program management and technical oversight in the development of DCA capability, and the F- 35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) at Edwards Air Force Base, California, which conducts flight tests to collect data and evaluate these test points.
F-35 DCA Team Materiel Leader Lt. Col. Jason W. Shirley; F-35 Deputy Program Manager for Nuclear Issues Charles E. (Chad) Lominac II; and Cassandra “Cassie” Allen, former F-35 Capability Verification Mission Systems Test Manager, represented the JPO DCA team. Chief Engineer, Weapons Integration Dustin L. Malcolm; and Lt. Col. Christopher “SIN” Campbell, who is both the director of the F-35 Edwards ITF and the commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron (FLTS), represented the F-35 ITF.
The award is presented annually to military or civilian individuals, groups or organizations determined to have contributed to the development of the most outstanding weapon systems that operate, in whole or in part, in the aerospace environment. Nominations are submitted by the Army, Navy, and Air Force departments, and the award is presented on a rotational basis in that order.
The fact that the team finished the job a year early was not by chance, but by design, Shirley said.
“The Secretary of Defense has made a commitment to NATO to meet the F-35 operational nuclear certification requirement date of January 2024,” Shirley said. “To meet this date, the JPO had to accelerate the planned design certification date by one year, to January 2023.”
“I’m immensely proud of the team for earning this recognition, but I’m not at all surprised,” said Campbell, who took command of ITF Edwards and 461st FLTS in June 2021.
In 2020, the F-35 DCA team operated at Edwards Air Force Base, using the ITF to collect 492 critical nuclear certification test points while executing nine ground tests and 19 flight tests. The team’s work culminated in a three-year, 87-flight, 198-flight-hour development test campaign, a year ahead of schedule, according to the price quote. ITF maintainers, engineers, instrumentation specialists and aircrew all contributed to the success of the trial programme, which provided data and demonstrations ensuring the safe transportation and separation of the B61-12 thermonuclear gravity bomb on the F-35A.
Completing all the necessary flight tests a year ahead of schedule required significant teamwork between teams comprised of military, public service employees and prime contractors over long days that often lasted more than 11 hours.
“Without teamwork, we would never have been able to accelerate our schedule and overcome the COVID challenges we faced as a team,” Shirley said. He added that “the roster” would be his one-word pick as the primary contributor to the F-35 DCA team’s success in 2020.
“Without alignment with nuclear stakeholders, we would never have been able to work together as a collective team to execute our accelerated development flight test campaign,” he said.
The list of government stakeholders within the nuclear enterprise is long and includes the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Air Force Headquarters, the Army Nuclear Weapons Center Air Force Security Center, major commands such as Air Combat Command and US Air Forces Europe. , as well as the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, Sandia National Labs, and Los Alamos National Labs. Key industry partners in this effort included F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin, as well as Boeing St. Charles.
“Our relationship with each of these organizations has been critical to our accomplishments in 2020,” Shirley said. “It took years of coordination to help us succeed. 2020 was a game-changer for the F-35 program, which has proven capable of executing a complex weapons integration program in the face of adversity and the spotlight of DoD leadership attention. .
The F-35 DCA is a pioneering capability, with the B61-12 becoming the first weapon to complete integration and enter production during the modernization phase of the F-35 program.
Once the development test campaign is complete, the F-35 DCA team will work towards obtaining nuclear design certification for the B61-12 with the F-35A variant before January 2023. Obtaining the certification will allow USAFE to begin that command’s nuclear operational certification training, according to Shirley.
Not all aircraft will go nuclear after full certification in support of real-world operations. Only units with a nuclear mission will receive the equipment and manpower necessary to configure and maintain nuclear-capable F-35s.
This is the second time in recent years that the F-35 Enterprise has received the prestigious Colonel Franklin C. Wolfe Weapons Systems Award from the Order of the Daedalians, along with Naval’s F-35C Joint Strike Fighter Wing Air Station Lemoore, California, recipient of the award in 2018.